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Explainer: Here's what scrapping seasonal clock changes will mean

It’s a choice now between brighter evenings or brighter mornings.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT committee this week decided that season clock changes should be scrapped by 2021.

Now all member states are being asked to decide whether they want to stay permanently on either winter or summer time.

Since 2001, all members states have switched to summertime on the last Sunday of March and then back to winter time on the last Sunday of October.

A consultation by the Commission last year found that over 80% of people favoured abolishing the twice yearly season clock changes. And a poll on behalf of TheJournal.ie and Claire Byrne Live/Amárach Research found 67% of Irish people believe we should stop the clock changing ritual. 

Pros and cons

The way it works now, we get the benefit of brighter evenings in the summer and in the winter our mornings are not dark for as long as they otherwise would be. 

Here are the current arrangements:

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And here are how each of the options would look:

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Basically, if we choose summer time, we will have brighter evenings all year round but in winter our mornings will be darker that our current winter mornings. This is a consideration in particular for children who would be going to school in the dark on winter mornings and also commuters. 

But there are benefits for those working in the agricultural sector as there is an extra daylight hour for outdoor activities. 

If we choose winter time we will have brighter mornings that we do now for work and school commutes but our summer evenings will not have as much of a ‘grand stretch’. 

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What are we likely to do here?

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, who has responsibility any seasonal time changes has not given an indication of which option he would prefer. 

His predecessor Frances Fitzgerald has in the past spoken of the fact that the European Parliament committee had highlighted the benefits of introducing summer time for  a longer portion of the year. 

At the end of last year the Department of Justice launched a public consultation on seasonal clock changes so Irish people can help the government decide whether we want to stay on summer or winter time.

The department told TheJournal.ie that this consultation has now closed. It comprised a public survey which received over 16,000 responses as well as 71 submissions from individuals and stakeholders.

An opinion poll of 1,000 people by Amárach Research was also commissioned.

“A report on the consultation exercise is being prepared and will be considered by an interdepartmental steering group for submission to government,” a spokesperson said.

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